Community Action Works
Community Action Works

How one family stood up to a major polluter

Most people don’t live near all their cousins. But Jackie grew up next door to all of her cousins in Saugus, MA, in one big family neighborhood block.

Her whole entire family was only a quarter mile from one of the worst polluters in the state.

If you lived next to a polluter like Wheelabrator, you’d want to do something about it. And Jackie’s mom did.

“My mom was the ultimate watchdog. She was a nurse. And she wanted to protect her family and neighbors at all costs,” said Jackie.

Jackie’s mom always had her with her, including when she was fighting to stop Wheelabrator. There are health studies that Jackie was involved in when she was only two or three years old.

Now, Jackie has a two-year-old of her own. Her mom wouldn’t let her raise a family in the neighborhood where she grew up because of, well… Wheelabrator. So Jackie bought a house 1.5 miles away.

“Family is a huge part of my life,” said Jackie. “It seems normal to settle back in Saugus.”

But then, the unthinkable happened. Jackie’s mom passed away from cancer. Brain cancer—one of the cancers that was found to be elevated in Saugus in a 2016 health study.

“She was a warrior, fighting against Wheelabrator for 35 years, literally because she started seeing all our family members get sick with cancer. And that was what she ended up with, brain cancer.”

– Jackie Mercurio

Jackie is still very much involved in the fight to protect her community from pollution.

“For me, I just want to keep my mom’s work going and put a stop to Wheelabrator once and for all,” said Jackie.

If you live in Massachusetts, here’s one way you can take action. Right now, there are three bills you can support to protect neighbors in Saugus. They would prevent companies from constructing landfills near designated areas of critical environmental concern, give boards of health in cities or towns near solid waste facilities increased say over operations, and require the landfill in Saugus to close in December 2024.

Massachusetts residents: Please send a letter to your representatives to urge them to support these three bills.

Your voice matters. Thanks for taking action.

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